Penis drawings lead to bias incidents


Rebecca Poretky

Penis drawings on whiteboards are considered bias incidents that could be reported to UVM police servies by resident advisors. Resident advisors have been trained to document these drawings by taking pictures of them and writing a report.

Julianne Lesch, Staff Writer

Penis drawings on whiteboards in residence hall common rooms have caused commotion among residents throughout the years.

These drawings are considered bias incidents and have resulted in calls to UVM police services by resident advisers as procedure.

“A bias incident is anything that could be bothering or triggering to someone because of their background and how they identify,” resident adviser Garrett Faucher, a sophomore, said.

Penis drawings have been a problem for UVM police in the past, said Lianne Tuomey, chief of UVM police services. Tuomey has been with UVM police services since 2000.   

UVM police is called after a penis drawing is found on a whiteboard, though they have rarely been involved in penis drawing-related incidents after a spike in incidents that occured in 2004.

These incidents are now dealt with on a more case-by-case basis within the residence hall, Tuomey said.

“Context is everything,” she said.

These drawings aren’t always reported to the police as bias incidents, Tuomey said.

“It might come in as a graffiti incident, it might come in as someone feeling uncomfortable or some sort of harassment complaint,” Tuomey said. “There is a whole host of ways that these things can come to our attention.”

Bias incidents include actions that are protected by the First Amendment, according to the 2017 UVM Annual Security Report.

These types of incidents are broken down into two categories: targeted and non-targeted, resident adviser Alex Creighton, a junior, said.

“Targeted is when there is a symbol, words or a phrase used that would be attacking someone for a number of things, like their sexual orientation or religion.

“Non-targeted is an offensive symbol that might just be put on as a joke, not with the intent of having a meaning to a specific person,” Creighton said.

Resident advisers have been trained to document penis drawings by taking pictures and writing a report, Creighton said.

The drawings are erased and the resident advisers talk with their residents to discuss how they were affected.

A floor meeting is then held to discuss the floor expectations, Creighton said.

First-year Josh Arvin said that he doesn’t see a problem with the drawings.

“People see these drawings as a joke. They usually don’t get offended by them,” Arvin said.

First-year Nicole Evans said that penis drawings are done out of immaturity.